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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Corbyn launches Labour campaign in Westminster

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has launched Labour's general election campaign at Church House, in Westminster. Mr Corbyn launching strong attacks on the media and the establishment and the Conservative government.

Mr Corbyn said: "The dividing lines in this election could not be clearer from the outset. It is the Conservatives, the party of privilege and the richest, versus the Labour Party, the party that is standing up for working people to improve the lives of all.

It is the establishment versus the people and it is our historic duty to make sure that the people prevail. A duty for all of us here today, the duty of every Labour MP, a duty for our half a million members - including the 2,500 who have joined in the last 24 hours.

Much of the media and establishment are saying that this election is a foregone conclusion. They think there are rules in politics, which if you don’t follow by doffing your cap to powerful people, accepting that things can’t really change, then you can’t win. But of course, they do not want us to win. Because when we win it is the people, not the powerful, who win. The nurse, the teacher, the small trader, the carer, the builder, the office worker, the student, the carer win. We all win.

It is the establishment that complains I don’t play the rules: by which they mean their rules. We can’t win, they say, because we don’t play their game. We don’t fit in their cosy club. We ‘re not obsessed with the tittle-tattle of Westminster or Brussels. We don’t accept that it is natural for Britain to be governed by a ruling elite, the City and the tax-dodgers, and we don’t accept that the British people just have to take what they’re given, that they don’t deserve better.

And in a sense, the establishment and their followers in the media are quite right. I don’t play by their rules. And if a Labour Government is elected on 8 June, then we won’t play by their rules either. They are yesterday’s rules, set by failed political and corporate elites we should be consigning to the past. It is these rules that have allowed a cosy cartel to rig the system in favour of a few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations. It is a rigged system set up by the wealth extractors, for the wealth extractors.  But things can, and they will, change.

Britain needs a Labour government that is prepared to fight for people in every part of the country, our towns, villages, as well as big cities. A Labour government that isn’t scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves. It needs a government that will use that wealth to invest in people’s lives in every community to build a better future for every person who lives here.

Because the Conservatives, drunk on a failed ideology, are hell bent on cutting every public service they get their hands on, and they will use all of the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to keep their rigged system intact. Don’t be angry at the privatisers profiting from our public services, they whisper, be angry instead at the migrant worker just trying to make a better life.

Don’t be angry at the government ministers running down our schools and hospitals, they tell us, be angry instead at the disabled woman or the unemployed man. It is the rigged economy the Tories are protecting that Labour is committed to challenging. We will not let the elite extract wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people any longer. 

So many people in modern Britain do what seems like the right thing to do. They get jobs, they spend all day working hard, they save to buy their own home, they raise children, they look after elderly or sick relatives. And yet, at the end of it, they get almost nothing left over as a reward. Compare their lives with the multinational corporations and the gilded elite who hide their money in the Cayman Islands because the Conservatives are too morally bankrupt to take them on. 

Labour in power will end this racket and make sure that everybody pays their taxes which fund our public services. We will overturn this rigged system. For all Theresa May’s warm words on the steps of Downing Street the Conservatives will never do any such thing.  Seven years of broken promises show us that on pay, the deficit, the NHS, our schools, our environment.

It was their wealthy friends in the City who crashed our economy. How dare they ruin the economy with their recklessness and greed and then punish those who had nothing to do with it? It was not pensioners, nurses, the low or averaged paid workers or carers who crashed the economy.

The Conservatives boast of record numbers of jobs. But what good is that if people in work are getting poorer and don’t share in the profits of that economy while the Conservatives look after the wealthy few? Our offer is to tackle elderly poverty and loneliness, invest in our economy, NHS and schools, to improve rights at work and the ten pound living wage. 

Britain is the sixth richest economy in the world. The people of Britain must share in that wealth. If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour Government. If I were Mike Ashley or the CEO of a tax avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory. Why? Because those are the people who are monopolising the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us in this country. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a contribution to make and a life to lead. Poverty and homelessness are a disaster for the individual and a loss to all of us.

It is wealth that should belong to the majority and not a tiny minority. Labour is the party that will put the interests of the majority first, while the Tories only really care about those who already have so much.  That is why we will prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election. Because the British people know that they are the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors.

Theresa May will insist that this is an election about Brexit. She will try to downplay the issues that affect people’s lives every day and instead turn the election into an ego trip about her own failing leadership and the machinations of the coming negotiations in Brussels. It is only Labour that will focus on what kind of country we want to have after Brexit. 

In the coming weeks Labour will lay out our policies to unlock opportunities for every single person in this country. We will focus on giving people real control over their own lives and make sure that everybody reaps a just reward for the work that they do. We will no longer allow those at the top to leach off of those who bust their guts on zero hours contracts or those forced to make sacrifices to pay their mortgage or their rent. Instead of the country’s wealth being hidden in tax havens we will put it in the hands of the people of Britain as they are the ones who earned it.

In this election Labour will lead the movement to make that change. We will build a new economy, worthy of the 21st century and we will build a country for the many not the few."

May launches Tory election campaign in Bolton

Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, Theresa May, last night launched the Conservative party's general election campaign in Bolton North East. The constituency is currently held by Labour with a majority of 4,377.

Bolton North East will be high on the Conservative party's target list as they seek to increase their majority in the House of Commons at this election. Speaking to Conservative party activists from the North West Mrs May said:

"It’s great to be here in Bolton, fresh from the House of Commons, fresh from winning a vote in the House of Commons which approved my decision to hold a general election on the 8th of June. It’s the right decision, it’s in the national interest. And that’s what this election is about providing the strong and stable leadership this country needs to take Britain through Brexit and beyond. It’s about strengthening our hand in the negotiations that lie ahead. And it’s about sticking to our plan for a stronger Britain that will enable us to secure that more stable and secure future for this country and take the right long term decision for the future. It’s about strong and stable leadership in the national interest. And you only get that strong and stable leadership by voting for the Conservatives. Because that’s what Conservatives government provides. And just look at what we’ve done.

When I took over as Prime Minister, there were predictions of immediate financial crash, of economic danger. But we see consumer confidence remains high, we see record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations. When I took over as Prime Minister people said the country was divided that it could never be brought together. But actually what I see today in this country is a unity of purpose – a desire for the Government to get on with the job of putting Brexit in to place and making a success of it.

And when I took over as Prime Minister, the country needed clear vision and strong leadership to ensure that we got on with that job of delivering on Brexit for the British people and that’s exactly what we did. We delivered that strong and stable leadership, we delivered the certainty that strong and stable leadership can give. And that’s what leadership looks like. Now there’s a very clear choice at this election. It’s a choice between strong and stable leadership under the Conservatives, or weak and unstable coalition of chaos led by Jeremy Corbyn.

And that is very clear. Let’s look – the other parties are lining up to prop up Jeremy Corbyn. We’ve seen it with the Liberal Democrats, and we see it with Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish nationalists. They’re very clear that they want to do everything they can to frustrate our Brexit negotiations. To undermine the job that we have to do, the task that lies ahead. Do everything to stop us from being able to take Britain forward. And it’s their tunnel vision focus on independence that actually provides uncertainty. They want to pull the strings, try to pull the strings of this election, prop up Jeremy Corbyn and provide more risk and uncertainty for the British people and that’s not in Britain’s interests.

So it’s only a vote for the Conservatives that can deliver, and every vote for the Conservatives is a vote for me and local Conservative candidates, and it’s a vote to ensure that we have that strong and stable leadership that we need to take us through Brexit and beyond. Every vote for me and the local Conservative candidates here and across Britain is a vote to deliver on that plan for a stronger Britain and a more secure future for us all. And if we have that certainty of five more years of strong and stable leadership then we can ensure that we’re delivering for people, for ordinary working people up and down the country, across the whole United Kingdom.

Yes getting the right deal with the European Union, ensuring that we get that good negotiation, that we deliver on that deep and special partnership with the European Union. Negotiating other deals for export of British goods and services. A country that is showing that we can be leaders in preventing terrorism and fighting modern slavery. But it’s also about getting the right deal for ordinary working people here at home, and that’s about building a strong Britain. Britain is the strongest country in Europe in terms of economic growth and national security.

It’s about building a stronger economy. It’s about creating well paid secure jobs. It’s about ensuring that there is opportunity for all. That we provide a good school place for every child. That there is affordable housing. That people can get on in their lives. It’s about ensuring that we create a more united nation. That we take action against the extremists who want to divide us, and that we stand up to the separatists who want to break up our country. So it’s providing that strong and stable leadership.

That certainty. That stability for the future ,and that’s going to be our message as go out in to our election campaign. And I’, looking forward to it. We’re going to fight a positive and optimistic campaign about the future of this country. I’m going to be getting out and about around the country. I’m going to be visiting communities in every part of the United Kingdom. And I’m looking forward to taking our case out there to people. Because this is the case – that it is only with the Conservatives that you get the strong and stable leadership that this country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.

Only we can give that plan for a stronger Britain. For a more secure future. But only you can give us the mandate. So vote for a strong and stable leadership in this country. Vote for the strong and stable leadership this country needs. Give me the mandate to lead Britain. Give me the mandate to speak for Britain. Give me the mandate to fight for Britain, and give me the mandate to deliver for Britain."

Greens call for votes at 16 in June election

Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, is calling for the Government to bring in legislation to allow 16 and 17-year-olds vote in the snap General Election. Dr Lucas, whose party will begin their campaign later today in Bristol, used an intervention in the House of Commons during yesterday's motion on a snap general election to urge the Prime Minister, Mrs May, to give young people a greater say in the future of the country. 

The Greens say that there are 1.5m young people who would be eligible to vote if 16 and 17-year-olds were given a vote on June 8. They also say that evidence from the Scottish independence referendum, substantiated by research from Austria and Norway, shows – aided by the encouragement of families and schools – 16 and 17-year-olds have higher rates of turnout than 18 to 24-year-olds.

Commenting Caroline Lucas said: "Everything is at stake right now. Our relationship with Europe, our border policies, our position on the world stage – voters will be given the chance to decide what kind of nation we want to be. The election is especially important for young people as they will live with the decisions made on June 8th for their entire lives.

"Theresa May should give Britain’s 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds – the first generation to have received citizenship education – a say in what will very much be their future. The Government should urgently change the law to expand the electorate – using the remaining parliamentary time to truly hand people control. After trebling tuition fees, cutting housing benefit for young people and slashing the educational maintenance allowance – surely the Government should give young people a chance to have a say on the policies that are affecting them.

"This should be a moment when we hand control to people and widen the scope of our democracy. Let’s trust young people with a vote in June – and let them have a real say about the future direction of their country." Dr Lucas added.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

It May-be all over for Labour

A view of the campaign from the sidelines by David Hough

It will feel strange during the election campaign not being involved. However, I made a decision last year to leave the Labour Party, and have not joined any others. Therefore, I will be writing these blogs as an interested observer, albeit with a centre-left bias.

Recent polling has been suggested as one of the reasons Mrs. May decided to call an election now, as well as messages coming out of the CPS regarding possible prosecutions of people involved in some of the campaigns during the 2015 election. Mrs. May, herself, indicated in her announcement speech outside No.10 Downing Street, that the main driving force was the need for a mandate for the Negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

I suspect the calculations revolved around all three possibilities, with the polls a clincher, as she saw the possibility of securing a very solid majority, which would leave her unchallenged for the duration of the parliament.

The formality of a vote in the Commons passed without any problems today. This was held due to the requirements of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, in which 66% of the MPs had to approve it, which they did with ease. Indeed, in the end only thirteen MPs voted against, including Clive Lewis, who may be considered a leadership contender should Labour lose, and Mr. Corbyn resign the leadership.

As the campaign begins, everything indicates a big Conservative victory, although Professor John Curtice, of Stirling University, has suggested it may not be as big as some believe, due to there being fewer seats than ever likely to change hands on election night.

The biggest reason given for the likelihood of a handsome Conservative majority is what has been happening with the Labour Party since the 2015 election defeat. The election of a leader who the majority of Labour MPs did not, and do not, support has contributed, as the party comes over as divided, and divided parties rarely do well in elections. It doesn’t matter whether the so-called ‘coup’ of 2016 has been a major factor in this, the perception is of a party at war with itself, and any cessation of hostilities for the duration of the campaign will be seen as attempting to paper over the cracks.

As I’ve been watching the coverage of the first couple of days of the campaign, one thing that has struck me, is how many people who say they were Labour voters, will be voting for other parties this time. Some of these cite Jeremy Corbyn as the reason, while others are unhappy with Labour’s, seemingly confused, position over EU withdrawal.

Now I could understand if these voters decided to switch their vote to the Liberal Democrats, especially those who strongly support remaining in the EU, or the Green Party. What doe s get me is those who decide to switch their vote directly to the Conservatives.

Listening to the reasons they give has been instructive. It’s partly to do with Labour’s position on withdrawal, but it also seems as though Mrs. May is still having a bit of a honeymoon. She has been Prime Minister for less than a year, and many see her as a strong and determined character. I think many see her as a fresh face, possibly helped by her keeping a relatively low profile during her years as Home Secretary, so she is not well known by the public.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Mrs. May has also made a large number of statements which are geared to moving onto what is considered traditional Labour territory, and many seem to have found this convincing.

A recent by-election victory in the seat of Copeland, and various council gains from Labour since 2015 do give the Conservatives plenty of grounds for optimism, but by-elections can be misleading, and only time will tell how much of a pointer these results have been.

Although Jeremy Corbyn has rightly pointed out that there are a lot of issues to be discussed during the campaign, it is bound to be dominated by the European Union, and the nature of Britain’s leaving.
The Conservatives appear to be intending on a ‘hard’ or ‘clean’ withdrawal (depending whether you were a Leaver or Remainer), while the Liberal Democrats have stated a clear position, that the UK should maintain as close links with the EU as possible, and a referendum be held on the outcome of negotiations.

Whichever of these two positions you agree with they are clear, and people will know what they are voting for. The Liberal Democrat’s remarkable victory in the Richmond by-election, a strong Remain area, would indicate that they could gain a lot of support in some of these areas. Whether it will have much effect on this occasion will be discovered on June 8th, but a strong showing, following the bloodbath of 2015, will put them in a strong position going forward.

Unfortunately for the Labour Party, their position on this issue has been perceived as a confusing one, which has meant the party has been unable to get a clear message across. This could be one of the factors that costs Labour dearly during the election, so they will need to settle on a clear stance early on, and stick to it for the duration of the campaign.

Before I conclude, a brief word about the UKIP, the party that many would say won the argument with the referendum result, but have since struggled to develop a new narrative. The travails of its latest leader Paul Nuttal during the Stoke Central by-election didn’t help with their public image, and he came ended the campaign as damaged goods, in a seat the party believed it would win.

Since then, their only MP, Douglas Carswell, has resigned from the party, leaving them once again without a voice in parliament. The usual noises have been made in which they say they will make substantial gains, and be the government’s ‘conscience’ during negotiations with the EU. Unfortunately for UKIP, the electoral system conspires against them (unfairly I believe), and gaining a single seat, let alone five or six, seems highly unlikely, even allowing for the position of the Labour Party, if the polls are to be believed.

So that is the state of things, as I see them, as the election campaign begins. No doubt I will proved wrong on some things, and, hopefully, right on others as the campaign unfolds. In such a short campaign, there will be little room for any major errors, and by this time next week, things may have altered considerably.

David Hough was Labour PPC for Rayleigh and Wickford in 2015

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Lib Dems slam Tories for breaking NI promise

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, saying he has broken a Conservative manifesto pledge by introducing a tax on entrepreneurs and “white van man” with a rise in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) that the Lib Dems say will cost them £93 by next year. However independent analysis says the rise will cost self-employed people who affected by the rise paying a further £240 a year.

The Liberal Democrats point out that while the Government are increasing National Insurance Contributions they are going ahead with cuts in corporation tax will. The Liberal Democrats also acknowledge that the government have not asked wealthy pensioners to pay a greater share.

The Liberal Democrats say that the tax will hit five million people, the Treasury say 2.48m people will be affected by the rise of Class 4 NICs. The Liberal Democrats point out that the changes to NICs breaks a Conservative manifesto promise not to increase National Insurance in 2015.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Susan Kramer said: "This is a tax on builders, taxi drivers and window cleaners, some of Britain’s hardest working people. This hits the gig economy where people are already insecure and facing rising prices and job uncertainty. And on International Women’s Day it will hit over one and a half million women."

"Companies will continue to save money by using workers without giving them the security and benefits of staff jobs. Meanwhile, these workers will have to pay more. This is patently as unfair as it is a tax on entrepreneurship and hard work." Baroness Kramer added.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Mrs May Sets Out Her 12 Objectives For Brexit

Theresa May has set out her 12 point plan and vision for Brexit in an email Mrs May wrote:

"Today I set out the Government’s 12 negotiating objectives for leaving the European Union - part of our plan for Britain, which aims to get the right deal abroad while ensuring a better deal for ordinary working people here at home – and I wanted you to be one of the first to know about it.

The referendum last June was a vote to leave the European Union. But it was also a vote for change – to shape a brighter future for our country, to make it stronger and fairer, and to embrace the world. And it is the job of this Conservative Government to deliver it and to get the right deal for Britain as we do.

We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing Global Britain and our friends and allies in the European Union. We are leaving the EU, not Europe.

That means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be. To pursue 12 objectives that amount to one goal: a new, positive and constructive partnership between Britain and the European Union.

1. Certainty: whenever we can, we will provide it. And we can confirm today that the Government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament.

2. Control of our own laws: we will bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain. Because we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws.

3. Strengthen the Union: we must strengthen the precious Union between the four nations of the United Kingdom. We will work very carefully to ensure that – as powers are repatriated back to Britain – the right powers are returned to Westminster and the right powers are passed to the devolved administrations. We will make sure that no new barriers to living and doing business within our Union are created.

4. Maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland: we will work to deliver a practical solution that allows the maintenance of the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland, while protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom’s immigration system.

5. Control of immigration: the message from the public before and during the referendum campaign was clear: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. We will continue to attract the brightest and the best to work or study in Britain but there must be control.

6. Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU: we want to guarantee these rights as early as we can. We have told other EU leaders that we can offer EU nationals here this certainty, as long as this is reciprocated for British citizens in EU countries.

7. Protect workers’ rights: as we translate the body of European law into our domestic regulations, we will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained.

8. Free trade with European markets: as a priority we will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and EU member states. It cannot mean membership of the EU’s Single Market. That would mean complying with European Court of Justice rulings, free movement and other EU rules and regulations without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are. And because we will no longer be members of the Single Market, we will not be required to contribute huge sums to the EU budget. If we contribute to some specific EU programmes that we wish to participate in, it will be for us to decide.

9. New trade agreements with other countries: it is time for Britain to become a global trading nation, striking trade agreements around the world. Through the Common Commercial Policy and the Common External Tariff, full Customs Union membership prevents us from doing this – but we do want to have a customs agreement with the EU and have an open mind on how we achieve this end.

10. The best place for science and innovation: we will continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives.

11. Co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism: we want our future relationship with the EU to include practical arrangements on matters of law enforcement and intelligence.

12. A smooth, orderly Brexit: we want to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two year Article 50 process has concluded. From that point onwards, we expect a phased process of implementation. We will work to avoid a disruptive cliff-edge.

These are our objectives for Brexit. A truly Global Britain - the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but also a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe and embraces the world. A country that gets out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike – a great, global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident and united at home.

So let’s work hard and together let’s make Brexit a success."

Mrs May is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and leader of the Conservative party.

Friday, 6 January 2017

We need a Free Press Mrs May - its a no brainer

Remember those expenses cheating crooks, sorry I mean Members of Parliament. Remember a certain UKIP MEP was being investigated for trousering £2m in "allowances". Remember major celebrities dipping there wick with someone that wasn't there wives. Remember the murderers of Stephen Lawrence walking free but a national newspaper branded them murderers?

But if Max Mosley and his rich friends have their way you wont hear about these scandals again, Even murderers like those who murdered Stephen Lawrence would be safe. Well you will see it here and with Guido, the Canary and so on but Mosley and his friend's plan is to silence the papers.

Mosley is driven by revenge, the press found out about his fetish and because of his famous black-shirted, fascist, relative sexed it up to include fascist connotations, now they shouldn't have done the latter but his visit to the S&M club happened and he wants to stop that being reported despite him at the time being in the public eye as the head of Formula One motor racing. So the visit was in the public interest.

The Mail branded the murderers of Stephen Lawrence as "MURDERERS" adding "If we're wrong, you can sue us" - the front page is famous. Funnily enough the racist murderers didn't sue mainly as they were as guilty as hell and are now behind bars, but Mosley's section 40 would have prevented that front page

In 2008 the Telegraph got hold of disks which showed MPs were trousering millions in expenses, now it wasn't their fault it was the system. But we all remember the duck houses, the bath plug, even Tom Watson's pizza wheel. However under Mosley's section 40 you wouldn't know about it, MPs would still be taking every penny they could get away with thanks to a free press they can't.

Recently we heard about 'Jim the washing machine repair man' Jim, or as he's better known Keith Vaz MP, liked to get class A drugs and have sex parties with rent boys. The second bit is irrelevant, the first bit was important as he was chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Although under Mosley's section 40 it would never have come out.

And section 40 wont only affect the national papers, The local papers will be crushed too, forced to comply with Mosley's section 40. I class myself as a Liberal although I report fairly and in now 5 years have had very few complaints. I am appalled that the Liberal Democrats could vote for this gagging law in 2013, there is nothing liberal or democratic about it!

In a free democracy a free press is a must. I would benefit from section 40 going through as I wouldn't face the regulation of the papers but I will fight against it and I hope you will fight it too. Whatever the papers say whether you agree or not, the papers have to be free to report, investigate and even more importantly hold public figures to account for their actions.

This, we're constantly reminded is Britain, its a free democracy - well for a free democracy there has to be a free press, leave them alone Mrs May and whip Conservative MPs to repeal Max Mosley's pernicious section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. In a free country a free press is a given, if the press aren't free - it wont be long till the country isn't either.